HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 30
From T-shirts to facemasks, how this Houston startup quickly made its COVID-19 pivot
Startups across Houston have made the decision to pivot their business or technology amid the COVID-19 crisis — both to stay afloat in the shutdown and to contribute to the community.
Houston-based Accel Lifestyle, an athletic wear company that has designed a bacteria-resistant material, flipped a switch on its production to make face masks `rather than T-shirts and tanks with their Prema fabric. On the latest episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast, Megan Eddings, founder and CEO, and Amanda Cotler, director of operations, shared the story of how this pivot came to be.
"When you think of face masks, you wouldn't think about activewear or thinking of Accel being a part of the fight against coronavirus," Cotler says.
But when Cotler and Eddings saw the Center for Disease Control was recommending wearing bandanas and cloth when face masks weren't available, they had an epiphany.
"Megan and I read that and immediately hopped on a call with our team," Cotler says. "We had a realization with our antibacterial fabric that a face mask made from it would be so much cleaner."
Within 24 hours, the duo had a sample in their hands, and they had 14,000 yards of their Prema fabric being shipped from California to Houston, where they had managed to find 60 local sewers ready to start making the masks.
When setting up the company, Eddings made it a priority to avoid sweatshops, and she set up her supply chain to be completely within the United States — something that's been beneficial to the company's COVID pivot.
"If we did not have a 100 percent domestic supply chain, there's no way we could have done this," Eddings says.
Packs of 10 masks are available online, but the bulk of Accel's mask sales have been to hospitals like Houston Methodist, which has ordered thousands.
Now, with the Houston workforce making moves to return to the work place, Eddings says she's seen an increased interest in corporations wanting custom masks with the company logo on it for their employees.
Eddings and Cotler share the story of Accel and its ability to pivot amid a national crisis on the podcast. Stream the episode below or wherever you get you podcasts — just search for the Houston Innovators Podcast.